The Power of Information Search in Strategic Thinking

An article recently described the sharp reduction of crime in the UK (and indeed most other western countries) despite the reduction in Police numbers and budgets.

The article suggested that one reason for this reduction was better targeting of resources – fewer ‘random’ Police patrols (even though these are often called for by the public) and more focused attention on crime hotspots.

Interestingly, there was an example of some particularly effective information search in one project in Cardiff. Police worked with the local A&E ward to obtain anonymised postcode and time-of-admission data for victims of violent crime.

They were surprised just how this different this was compared to the reported incident data, probably as a result of the lack of willingness to report this type of crime to the Police.

This enabled them to identify ‘hotspots’ (and ‘hot’ times) so they could target the limited Police resources available. This brought about a considerable reduction in violent crime and injury.

The key to effective information search is to seek broad information beyond the obvious needed to complete the task at hand. Usually this requires a bit of lateral thinking when planning your information search. It also helps if you think about non quantitative data that might be available, such as how people ‘feel’ about a situation.

So the next time you reach for some data, have a think about how you can broaden your search. Research shows that this is key starting point for great planning and strategic thinking development.

Vary what you read and who you talk to – you never know where the next nugget of information will come from. Information Search is one of the 12 high performance behaviours that my360plus measures and coaches as part of its focus on leadership talent development. Like all the High Performance Behaviours, it is empirically proven to help you thrive and survive in increasing change and complexity. Get in touch to find out more.

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